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Using the H-2A to hire agricultural immigrant workers

Florida farmers and other agricultural business owners may be able to fill their seasonal employment needs with immigrant workers under the H-2A program from U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The program allows agricultural businesses to hire workers from other countries for a limited period of time, as long as the employment meets certain conditions. When the employment is over, the immigrant workers must return to their home countries. The program is an effective way for employers to meet their labor needs and for immigrant workers to find temporary employment in the United States.

To qualify for H-2A certification, the proposed employment must meet certain criteria. First, it must be temporary or seasonal. Also, the employer must show that it can't find enough American workers who are able or willing to take the job. Similarly, the employer must show that the employment of immigrant workers would not have an adverse impact on the wages of American workers in the same industry. Finally, the employer must have a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a wide-ranging list of eligible home countries for immigrant workers. Certification can be issued for up to one year. At the end of that year, the worker can get extensions for a maximum of a three-year stay in the U.S. At the end of three years, the worker must return to their country for at least three consecutive months.

Issues in temporary immigrant employment can arise in a few areas. First, an employer may have issues showing that their employment won't have adverse effects on American employment. For the immigrant worker, they may have conflicts with the employer that affect their ability to retain the temporary work visa. An immigration attorney could help both workers and employers sort through the number of issues that may arise during the certification and visa process.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers," Accessed Feb. 11, 2015

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